Harborough remembers the 'Forgotten Army' to mark VJ75 Day

Poignant ceremonies were held at 11am in both Market Harborough and Lutterworth to honour the fallen and all who fought the Japanese

By Red Williams
Monday, 17th August 2020, 5:50 pm

The iconic Forgotten Army is not forgotten any more as communities across Harborough united to mark VJ75 Day on Saturday (August 15).

Poignant ceremonies were held at 11am in both Market Harborough and Lutterworth to honour the fallen and all who fought the Japanese.

Stewart Harrison, 73, chairman of the Royal British Legion (RBL) in Market Harborough, led the tribute at the town’s War Memorial on The Square.

The iconic Forgotten Army is not forgotten any more as communities across Harborough united to mark VJ75 Day on Saturday (August 15).

“Jill Mann, our vice-chairman, and Pat Middleton, chairman of the Royal Naval Association here, laid wreathes along with myself.

“I read the Kohima Epitaph and exultation.

“About 20 people, all keeping a safe distance, gathered to watch,” said Stewart, of Naseby Square, Market Harborough.

“The two-minute silence was immacuately observed at 11am on Saturday as the nation came together as one.

Two minute silence during the VJ Day on the Square in Market Harborough. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“It was very uplifting and gratifying to see how many people all over the country honoured the Forgotten Army.

“Even though it finally brought the Second World War to an end VJ Day has often been overshadowed by VE (Victory over Europe) Day in the past.

“But justice has been done this time for the tens of thousands of brave servicemen who took part in the long, brutal campaign against the Japanese.”

A crowd of up to 40 people looked on as a similar ceremony went ahead at Lutterworth’s War Memorial on Church Street.

Jill Mann vice chairman of Market Harborough Royal British Legion, Stewart Harrison chairman of Market Harborough Royal British Legion and Pat Middleton chairman of the Royal Naval Association during the wreath laying for VJ Day. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Led by Lutterworth RBL chairman Mike Perks, 71, it was also attended by town mayor Rob Coleman and his consort, RBL branch president Dick Stilgoe, standard bearer Stuart Pope and Last Post trumpeter Mick Veasey.

“Our branch secretary Sheila Phillips read a very emotional poem about VJ Day.

“It was particularly poignant and personal for Sheila because her father-in-law served out in the Far East,” said local RBL spokesman Alan Richardson.

“A lot of local people have relatives who fought in the so-called Forgotten Army.

Two minute silence during the VJ Day on the Square in Market Harborough. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“It’s crucial to them, as well as the rest of us, that we remember and salute all those who put their lives on the line for King and Country.”

The battle-hardened 14th Army was dubbed the Forgotten Army as they fought formidable Japanese forces 10,000 miles away in the Far East in the last war.

But General Bill Slim’s heroic troops – who came from all over the Empire and spoke over 40 languages – were immortalised when Japan finally surrendered on August 15, 1945.

Jill Mann vice chairman of Market Harborough Royal British Legion, Stewart Harrison chairman of Market Harborough Royal British Legion and Pat Middleton chairman of the Royal Naval Association during the wreath laying for VJ Day. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Jill Mann vice chairman of Market Harborough Royal British Legion, Stewart Harrison chairman of Market Harborough Royal British Legion and Pat Middleton chairman of the Royal Naval Association during the wreath laying for VJ Day. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Lutterworth VJ Day Service on the Memorial Gardens. PICTURE: ROB WOODWARD
Lutterworth VJ Day Service on the Memorial Gardens. PICTURE: ROB WOODWARD